Ferry circles Sounds as tsunami threat causes delays

Hundreds of passengers are stuck at sea as ferries shelter in the Sounds following this morning's tsunami alert.

Ferry services between Picton and Wellington have been impacted by the huge 8.1 earthquake near the Kermadec Islands.

And transport bosses are warning of short delays and hope schedules will return to normal shortly.

The Aratere and the Kaitaki have delayed berthing in Picton as a safety precaution until the deadline for any effect has passed, which is expected soon.

The Kaitaki was scheduled to leave Wellington at 9am.

The Kaiarahi is continuing into Wellington Harbour as normal.

Interislander executive general manager Walter Rushbrook says passenger safety is a top concern.

“Tsunami warnings following this morning’s earthquakes have affected Interislander sailings, and are causing some short delays," he says.

"We regret the inconvenience and expect the services will be back on schedule shortly.”

Services are expected to be impacted for the next few hours.

Tsunami activity will continue for several hours and the threat must be regarded as real until the Civil Defence warning is cancelled.

Strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges near the shore are expected in the Top of the South from Farewell Spit to Port Underwood, including Nelson, Picton and the Marlborough Sounds.

Civil Defence says there is a threat to beach, harbour, estuary and small boat activities.

People in all New Zealand coastal areas should:

Listen to the radio and/or TV for updates, or check www.civildefence.govt.nz

Listen to local Civil Defence authorities and follow any instructions regarding evacuation of your area

Stay out of the water (sea, rivers and estuaries, this includes boats)

Stay off beaches and shore areas

Do not go sightseeing

Share this information with family, neighbours and friends

Evacuation advice overrides the current COVID-19 Alert Level requirements. Listen to local Civil Defence authorities and follow any instructions regarding evacuation of your area. If you are told to evacuate do not stay at home. Stay 2 metres away from others if you can and if it is safe to do so.